How many goals can Lukaku end the season with?
Romelu Lukaku has enjoyed a prolific campaign so far in his first season as a Manchester United player, but he still has time to make it even more memorable by ensuring his goalscoring exploits are mentioned in the same breath as the club’s all-time greats.
The striker has struck 25 times in 44 appearances across all competitions this term – an excellent return from the summer signing, who is only the eighth United player to have reached that quarter-century milestone in their first campaign at the club.
He will be looking to end the season strongly ahead of this summer’s World Cup with Belgium, for whom he is their all-time leading scorer at the relatively young age of 24.
Lukaku is already on course to surpass the total achieved last season by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was the Reds’ top scorer for 2016/17 with 28 goals in all competitions. As we learned through last Thursday's announcement, this proved to be the Swede's only full campaign at Old Trafford.
If he eclipses Zlatan’s tally, Romelu would be the highest scorer for United in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era. Should he net two more than Ibrahimovic, then Lukaku would be the first player to reach 30 goals since Robin van Persie achieved that round haul in the 2012/13 title-winning campaign.
The next landmark figure above that would be 35 - a tally which hasn’t been hit by any United player in the last 10 years since Cristiano Ronaldo scored 42 times in 2007/08, a successful season in which the Reds won the Premier League and the Champions League.
The closest the club's all-time top goalscorer, Wayne Rooney, came to that total was when he netted 34 in both 2009/10 and 2011/12.
Meanwhile, Lukaku could also become part of only a small set of United players who have managed to bag 30 goals in a single season in all competitions in the last 50 years, since George Best scored 32 in the 1967/68 campaign.
Ronaldo, Rooney and van Persie are all in that elite group but only two other Reds stars from the last half-century have done it - Denis Law with 30 strikes precisely in the season after Best, 1968/69, and Ruud van Nistelrooy, who notched 36, 44 and 30 goals respectively in three consecutive campaigns between 2001 and 2004.
As we approach the business end of the campaign, United have eight more Premier League games to negotiate and an FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur to come on 21 April, with the potential of a return to Wembley in the final of the competition to sign off the season on 19 May.
ManUtd.com assess how many more goals Lukaku could score in the Reds’ remaining league games by looking back at how he fared against the same opponents earlier this season...
31 MARCH: SWANSEA CITY (H)
Lukaku continued his excellent start to life at United by scoring for a third successive game at the start of the season, when the Reds travelled to South Wales for the reverse fixture back in August. The Belgian netted the clinching second strike, which sparked a blistering three-goal burst in the space of four minutes late on in a 4-0 win at the Liberty Stadium. It was the fourth time he has netted against the Swans overall in 13 matches in his career.
7 APRIL: MANCHESTER CITY (A)
After a rare home game without a goal when City visited Old Trafford back in December, Romelu will be eager to grab himself a first Manchester derby goal when the Reds make the short trip across town for the second showdown of the season against Pep Guardiola’s side. He’s fared well against City in the past, scoring five goals in 13 previous outings against them – including finding the net in both league meetings last season for Everton.
15 APRIL: WEST BROMWICH ALBION (H)
Lukaku knows the Baggies well, having scored 17 times for them during 2012/13. That impressive season-long loan spell culminated in a hat-trick at United's expense, in Sir Alex Ferguson's final match, that frantic 5-5 draw. He been particularly prolific against the Midlands club too - his header which opened the scoring in United’s 2-1 win at The Hawthorns back in December was his fifth goal in eight meetings with them, while he has also registered three assists in those matches too.
18 APRIL: BOURNEMOUTH (A)
It’s fair to say Romelu likes a goal against the Cherries, with seven to his name in just six career appearances against the south-coast club. Remarkably, four of those came in a single game for his former club Everton last season, when he demonstrated a fantastic array of finishing in a thumping 6-3 win for the Toffees at Goodison Park. He also scored the winner when the Reds welcomed Eddie Howe’s side to the Theatre of Dreams earlier this season - his bullet header was voted our Goal of the Month for December.
Bournemouth - Last time at Old TraffordVideo
29 APRIL: v ARSENAL (H)
Lukaku has often found the going tough against the Gunners but he has still managed to score three times, and record three assists, in 13 career clashes. Although he wasn’t directly involved in any of the goals, the forward was part of an impressive team performance when the Reds saw off Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium in this season’s reverse fixture. His last goal against Arsene Wenger’s side was also his last-ever goal for Everton, in a 3-1 Premier League defeat on the final day of last season.
5 MAY (TBC): v BRIGHTON (A)
As they were promoted to the Premier League for the first time in their history this term, Lukaku has only come up against the Seagulls on two previous occasions – both of which were this season’s meetings at Old Trafford. The striker didn’t manage to find the net in the league clash in November but was on target in the FA Cup quarter-final tie in our last outing before the international break, heading home the opener in the Reds’ 2-0 win.
FA Cup highlights: United 2 Brighton 0Video
13 MAY: WATFORD (H)
Despite not getting on the scoresheet himself, Lukaku still ensured he made a positive contribution in United’s 4-2 win over Watford at Vicarage Road back in November, setting up Anthony Martial to score the Reds’ third goal. His overall record against the Hornets is two goals and two assists in five previous career appearances, so he will undoubtedly fancy his chances of improving on that tally in what is scheduled to be our final league game of the season.
TBC: WEST HAM UNITED (A)
If Lukaku was to handpick one opponent he would most like to play against, it would probably be West Ham. The Reds’ no.9 has netted more goals against the Hammers than against any other team in his career, scoring 11 in 13 games in all competitions – including nine in 11 Premier League outings. He has also registered four assists. Lukaku will also have fond memories of facing the Hammers on the opening day of this season, when he scored twice on his league debut for the Reds in a resounding 4-0 win at Old Trafford.
Lukaku has been in sensational form so far in 2018, scoring 10 goals in this calendar year already, including four in his last five games. If he is able to maintain this kind of run in the remaining weeks of the season, there is every chance he can end the campaign with a tally which surpasses some of the biggest names in United’s illustrious history.